Protest against ABP's investments in fossil fuel companies recently held at the Utrecht Science Park. Photo: DUB

Universities to help pension fund ABP with sustainable investing

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Dutch universities have assigned a committee of experts to keep a critical eye on the investment strategy of pension fund ABP, which is mandatory for all higher education workers. They will issue an advice twice a year.

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Last month, the Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU) held consultations with ABP's board about the lack of sustainable investments in the fund's overall strategy. ABP’s approach to investing recently came under fire from academic organisations like the Young Academy and Scientists4future, among others. They criticise the fact that scientists have been working hard towards a more sustainable future, but the mandatory pension fund for higher education professionals is actually enabling fossil fuel companies thanks to their investment portfolio.

Justified demand
The criticism is completely justifiable, says VSNU chairperson Pieter Duisenberg: “Universities and researchers think about the future every day, whether it’s about educating young people or looking for solutions to social challenges. We want to be the driving force behind real progress.” 

One of the agreements reached with ABP is that the VSNU will put together a committee of scientists who can offer solicited and unsolicited advice on the issue. The members of this committee have just been appointed. Dirk Schoenmaker, professor of banking and finance at Erasmus University Rotterdam, will be the chair.

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